If this is Jason’s idea of “growing and flourishing,” I’d hate like hell to see his idea of decline.
For many years now, Grace Episcopal Alexandria has known that it needs to engage in strategic planning. Indeed, lackadaisical perjuring priest Bob Malm himself acknowledged this, and made some perfunctory noises about having Lee Meeks leading such an effort. But to date, no such effort has been made, to the lasting detriment of the parish.
Before we go further, let’s look at what it takes for strategic planning to succeed. Success factors include:
Buy-in at every level of the parish.
Effective tactical planning, including business processes to support meaningful change.
Shared top-level vision.
No-holds-barred willingness to examine baseline issues.
Most important, integrity.
In this regard, Grace Episcopal Alexandria is in dire trouble on every front.
Even the church’s mission statement is problematic, for it focuses on unmeasurable intangibles. “A center for outreach and healing?” Just 3 percent of church funds go towards community service. Healing? The church is still trying to defend Bob Malm’s perjury and its own unethical conduct. Living mission through the Eucharist and the practice of our baptismal promises? Last I heard, perjury, bullying the dying, defaming others, and referring to other Christians as “domestic terrorists” was not in keeping with the baptismal covenant. (Or is it? So far, Grace Church is vigorously defending these actions.) Meanwhile, not many are even able to receive the Eucharist. Fine music? Arguable but nice, albeit hardly the stuff of which strategic planning is made.
As to buy-in, Bob Malm didn’t so much as lift a finger to get the ball rolling, and no one else has ever promoted the issue in a meaningful way. Indeed, my efforts to push the matter were met with angry recriminations by perjuring priest Bob Malm. Indeed, vestry candidate bios for years have referenced the challenges the church faces, but nothing ever gets done about it. Nothing.
Vision? The diocese, vestry, and search committee are trying to go straight into another rector, with very little effort to exorcise the baleful ghost of perjuring priest Bob Malm. Heck, the latter is still showing up for Shrine Mont, so he’s neither gone nor forgotten. And then there’s the Malm Narthex, named after the Perjurer in Chief. Nice. There’s a reason the discernment process sometimes uses a priest-in-charge, and Grace is the poster child for situations in which this approach is warranted.
Nor is there a willingness to tackle issues head-on. Any meaningful discussion would have questioned why perjuring priest Bob Malm was getting paid almost 200K a year, spending a month at the beach, and pulling down a 100K bonus as the church was shedding members and budget, church records were a shambles, and Bob was refusing to supervise staff (many of whom were woefully underpaid), and cutting employee health benefits. In other words, Bob was going to make sure that discussion went nowhere, because by definition it would have called into question his tenure as rector.
And members overall just want pretty music, nice flowers, lots of stained glass, and clouds of incense and they are good. There simply is no desire to rock the boat, even as it slowly sinks.
As to integrity, the parish still has Lisa Medley, the Princess Porcine, lying about the circumstances of my departure. Kelly Motormouth Gable continues her defamation. Perjuring priest Bob Malm continues to defend his perjury and other misconduct. And Alison “Bullying for Jesus” Campbell still justifies her conduct as a way to stick up for Kelly, even as the church implodes due to her childish, hateful conduct and similar behavior by others. In other words, the church is in the ethical sh***er and lacks any sort of ethical introspection, even as outsiders describe the church’s response to criticism as lacking in love and “childish and hateful.”
Nor has anyone ever explored and addressed perjuring priest Bob Malm’s misconduct towards other members of the parish, like lying about the imminent departure of church office staff, calling Lisa Doelp “a little spy,” or referring to Jan Spence as an “asshole.” (The latter is true, but we can do without clergy saying it, thank you. As to Bob’s comments about Lisa, I flat out do not believe them, nor Bob’s tale in support of his obnoxious claims.)
As presently postured, Grace Episcopal Alexandria is utterly unable to do anything meaningful to plan for the future. It lacks vision, commitment, and integrity, and all members want is for change to stay away. But change is here, in the form of ongoing church decline, and trying to ignore it is a recipe for disaster. Even worse are comments like Jason Roberson’s written claims that the church is growing and flourishing. It is not, and data published by the national church makes clear that this is, at best, a misstatement. Indeed, some might call it a lie.
Lastly, if you are a member and planning to pledge this fall, I urge you to make clear that continuing in financial support is conditioned on the church cleaning up its act. There is absolutely no reason to ignore the problems facing the church, nor to brush off Bob Malm’s perjury, efforts to subpoena a dying woman while falsely claiming that she contacted him repeatedly to set up appointments, and more. Nor have we ever seen the Princess Porcine Lisa Medley and the other lying scumbags in the church, including the twenty-something who urged me to commit suicide, take responsibility for their actions. And no, the whole junior high, “Well, he’s just as bad,” routine doesn’t cut it.
Even better, hold onto your funds until the church comes clean and demonstrates integrity and accountability. You are simply wasting your money if you are investing in a church that thinks perjury, defamation, and urging others to commit suicide is okay. Such churches in the end simply do not survive.